There may not be a bigger celebrity in the music game today than pop-sensation Katy Perry. Many may not know this but Katy has had both a direct and indirect impact in our autism community in the past several years…

This quote above was shared by Katy Perry on her twitter handle the night after performing at an autism benefit in 2013 hosted by Comedy Central called A Night of Too Many Stars where she performed her hit song “Firework” with Jodi DiPiazza, an 11-year-old on the autism spectrum. Katy’s performance with Jodi become an overnight sensation which reached several million views on youtube and also jumpstarted the career of Jodi. As someone who has had the honor to get to know Jodi I have to say she is one of the brightest stars we have in our autism community today.

Based on this night, Jodi has been able to go around the country performing and spreading disability and autism awareness. Many a times I think back to watching their performance and thinking about how Katy’s impact here led to educating thousands today through Jodi’s influence and the hopes of one day seeing Jodi have similar success to Katy.

But it doesn’t stop there. Through Katy’s music, for example with her #1 hit “Roar” we’ve seen countless videos of self-advocates and parents sharing covers of this song in the hopes of spreading autism awareness. “Roar” being a way of saying that you are going to hear us roar i.e you are going to hear us educate and spread autism awareness. A non-verbal boy with autism also became a viral sensation when he was able to sing the song “Roar” to his mom’s iPhone.

Later, Katy got back involved with the cause when she offered several members of our team at Autism Speaks tickets to see a special screening of her documentary “A Piece of Me.” This documentary resonated with many in our community based on the puzzle piece being one of our trademark symbols around the world. Almost a year later during Katy’s Prism World Tour she also donated a portion of the proceeds to benefit Autism Speaks!

Regardless the gestures, I wanted to say thank you to Katy Perry for providing such powerful music that is making an impact for us. My only hope is that someday in the future our community can partner again in the hopes of doing amazing things for those over 70 million individuals with autism. Thank you.